Today I attended the first day of the Future of Mobile and Future of Web Apps conference at The Brewery (a lovely, and well-organised venue with nice food and helpful staff in the centre of London). Here is a little bit of a summary of the talks I enjoyed the most.
The conference started with Jeffrey Zeldman – not only is he legendary, but also wonderfully charming, warm and funny. He spoke about the New Craft of Web Design. His key messages were around content being a design problem, but also that your content will likely be viewed separately from your design, so providing ways for people to view your content apart from your design is no longer a minority activity. He also told us that our job as a designer is to serve the customer – we need to connect the right user with the right content at the right time.
It was big stats next from Ewan MacLeod, telling us how HUGE mobile really is (it took 10 years to create 100 million desktop users, but in the same amount of time there will be over 10 billion mobile users). He was enthusiastic and expressive, and liked to offend (You are not cool if you have an iPhone).
Dan Donald introduced us to the concept of Reactive Web Design – taking the idea of context within a website much further – why not try to produce a website that shifts content based on the time as well as your location? He is working on a project exploring how you can seamlessly blend context into the web experience - @breakthepage.
PayPal’s John Lunn talked about retail – ‘The future of bricks is clicks’. Traditional retail is suffering – we want stuff now, we don’t want to wait in a queue and we want it cheap! Retail is shifting more online – but this could provide many opportunities to create a really integrated and seamless shopping experience. Wouldn’t it be nice to just check-in somewhere, pick up what you want and walk out. This experience is really close to becoming possible.
I think the most exciting talk though was from Ben Hammersley. He spoke to us to about the social and political implications of how fast technology is moving. Yes, the government is freaking out because they really don’t understand what’s going on – the Internet landscape is moving too fast. He had some lovely analogies too. The digital industry being like Godzilla, crashing through the world destroying other industries as it goes. He also talked about us being cyborgs - your smartphone is your robot brain. He signed off with the rather nice idea, though. We are the last generation that can explain technology to both sides. We remember the world before the Internet, before mobile – but we created it, and we understand it. We are within a really exciting moment in time, and we can help shape what happens next.
It’s been an excellent, informative and inspiring day and I’m really looking forward to what happens next.